SEC Football Recruiting: Most Exciting 2015 Prospects to Watch at Summer Camps
Even with the recent trend of earlier-than-ever commitments, summer camps mean coaches getting the opportunity to work with and watch top-notch recruits.
Some have already made their decisions. Others will walk onto different campuses across the Southeast looking to make names for themselves or to determine where they best fit.
Once camps end, commitments could come fast and furious for those reasons.
Recruiting has evolved into a 365-day-a-year process (and business, with a full marketplace now among 247Sports, Rivals and Scout).
When people need their football fix, these summer camps can help fill the void between spring games—where applicable—and the start of August camp.
Today we examine some of the most intriguing prospects heading into summer camps.
We are looking at several components, from overall hype to recruiting status. Five-star commitments who have already made commitments, for instance, probably aren’t as exciting to see this summer as are 4-star players who are wide open in the process.
Here is a high-overview look at 12 prospects who could make or break recruiting classes next February.
DT Trent Thompson
Weight: 292 lbs
Hometown: Albany, Georgia
247Sports Rank: 5-star, No. 1 overall prospect
Schools in the Mix: Florida State, Georgia, Alabama, Auburn, Clemson
Most within the 247Sports network seem to agree that the nation’s top prospect will stay in-state and choose Georgia.
However, being the top-rated recruit means programs from across the country will come in and make a hard push.
Will Thompson dominate summer camps in a way befitting the No. 1 recruit, or will he watch his star dull a bit over the summer?
Will he build relationships with coaches on other campuses, or will Georgia remain the front-runner heading into the fall?
Or might Thompson simply decide to commit to the Bulldogs and end all the speculation?
QB Torrance Gibson
Weight: 200 lbs
Hometown: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
247Sports Rank: 5-star, No. 1 dual-threat QB prospect
Schools in the Mix: Ohio State, Auburn, Tennessee, LSU
What quarterback wouldn’t want to play for Urban Meyer?
The Ohio State coach mentored Alex Smith at Utah and Tim Tebow at Florida, and now Ohio State’s Braxton Miller is looking for a third consecutive undefeated regular season.
That’s an amazing track record at three different spots.
So if Torrance Gibson really does favor Ohio State, it would be difficult to blame him.
Then again, more local options for Gibson include Auburn, Tennessee and LSU—all of whom have programs or coaches with similar successes.
247Sports recruiting experts have Tennessee as a serious contender to Ohio State as well.
Where will Gibson feel most comfortable this summer?
RB Damien Harris
Weight: 205 lbs
Hometown: Berea, Kentucky
247Sports Rank: 5-star, No. 1 running back
Schools in the Mix: Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio State
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops excelled on the recruiting trail, bringing in a caliber of recruiting class the athletic department is more accustomed to seeing in basketball than in football.
Tailback Damien Harris presents a new challenge, though.
Harris, a 4-star recruit, is the most heralded prospect in the Bluegrass State this year, and Stoops will face significant national competition for his services.
Better-established programs—such as Alabama and Ohio State—will come in and try to land Harris.
Watching where Harris goes this summer will be intriguing. Will he stay local, or does he decide to visit other campuses while contemplating options?
Stoops, of course, is hoping for the former.
DT Daron Payne
Weight: 316 lbs
Hometown: Birmingham, Alabama
247Sports Rank: 5-star
Schools in the Mix: Alabama, Auburn, Texas
Though 247Sports has Daron Payne as a heavy lean toward Alabama, he has yet to officially make a commitment.
Auburn will do what it can to win him away from its rival—a task that would become much easier if he elects to visit the Plains during summer camp season.
Recent success enjoyed by the Crimson Tide and the Tigers magnifies every little competition in which the two square off.
This just marks one more battleground for the two programs.
DT Albert Huggins
Weight: 279 lbs
Hometown: Orangeburg, South Carolina
247Sports Rank: 4-star, No. 11 defensive tackle
Schools in the Mix: Clemson, Georgia, South Carolina
Albert Huggins has already seemingly narrowed his list down to three primary contenders.
Many 247Sports recruiting experts consider Clemson the team to beat, but SEC neighbors Georgia and South Carolina are certainly in the mix.
These three programs face off in a regular-season round-robin. Will the results of those games have any impact on Huggins’ decision?
T Martez Ivey
Weight: 270 lbs
Hometown: Apopka, Florida
247Sports Rank: 5-star, No. 1 offensive tackle prospect
Schools in the Mix: Florida, Alabama, Auburn, South Carolina
Florida appears to be the clear leader for Martez Ivey’s services, but this summer could be worth watching considering he hasn’t made an official commitment yet.
Ivey could be a difference-maker right away in college, coming in as the top offensive tackle prospect in the nation.
Even if Ivey does commit to Florida, the status of Gators coach Will Muschamp could affect the recruit of any high-profile prospect. Muschamp certainly can’t be comfortable headed into his fourth year, coming off a 4-8 season.
Summer camps could be a great opportunity for Ivey to build a rapport with other coaches for a primary commitment—or potentially as a backup plan.
DE CeCe Jefferson
Weight: 250 lbs
Hometown: Glen Saint Mary, Florida
247Sports Rank: 5-star, No. 1 defensive end
Schools in the Mix: Florida, Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Notre Dame
CeCe Jefferson marks another high-profile Florida prospect seemingly leaning toward committing to the Gators but not yet declared.
Several other programs—Alabama, Auburn, Florida State and Notre Dame included—plan to continue to chase after Jefferson.
Summer should show just how serious Jefferson is about Florida—and whether coach Will Muschamp has anything to worry about in his recruitment.
LB Jeffery Holland
Weight: 230 lbs
Hometown: Jacksonville, Florida
247Sports Rank: 4-star, No. 4 outside linebacker
Schools in the Mix: Florida, Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Ohio State, Texas, UCLA
Yet another top-40 prospect favors Florida headed into the summer.
Like with many others, though, the Gators will have strong competition for him.
247Sports recruiting experts think Auburn is the biggest threat for Will Muschamp and Florida, though Alabama and a host of others will continue their push.
S Jamal Peters
Weight: 200 lbs
Hometown: Bassfield, Mississippi
247Sports Rank: 4-star, No. 3 safety
Schools in the Mix: Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Texas A&M
Just about the entire SEC West has jumped in the mix for Jamal Peters’ services, trying to beat out in-state programs Ole Miss and Mississippi State.
Peters seems to be one of the more open top prospects in the Southeast.
247Sports recruiting experts favor Mississippi State as the team to beat, but it’s too early to call this race.
Will one of the teams jump to the forefront this summer?
G Javon Patterson
Weight: 290 lbs
Hometown: Petal, Mississippi
247Sports Rank: 4-star, No. 2 guard
Schools in the Mix: Ole Miss, Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Mississippi State
Under coach Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss has pulled some big-time recruits.
Javon Patterson could be one of the biggest hauls for the Rebels in 2014, but Freeze and his staff must fend off significant in-division competition to make it happen.
Patterson could ultimately choose between in-state schools Ole Miss and Mississippi State, though LSU, Auburn and Alabama seem likely to be heard from before it’s over.
Seeing where Patterson goes this summer should be interesting.
DE Byron Cowart
Weight: 250 lbs
Hometown: Seffner, Florida
247Sports Rank: 5-star, No. 3 defensive end
Schools in the Mix: Florida, Oregon, Alabama, Auburn
In case you haven’t recognized it yet, this could be a huge recruiting class for Will Muschamp and Florida.
Cowart is the third 5-star prospect in 247Sports’ top 15 who might be leaning toward signing with the Gators.
Oregon is also very much in the mix and has developed enough of a national brand to pull any player from anywhere.
The competition in the Southeast will be substantial, though, with Alabama and Auburn chasing after Florida for Cowart.
LB Malik Jefferson
Weight: 225 lbs
Hometown: Mesquite, Texas
247Sports Rank: 5-star, No. 1 linebacker
Schools in the Mix: Alabama, Texas A&M, Baylor, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Oregon, Texas
Once Texas A&M moved from the Big 12, it seemed like a matter of time before the SEC started expanding its footprint more prominently in Texas.
Alabama and LSU playing recent regular-season games in Arlington, Texas, only furthered that cause.
Now both hope to snag a 5-star recruit from the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
LSU already landed a commitment from Maea Teuhema, a 5-star offensive tackle prospect from Keller.
Now Alabama is going head-to-head with Texas A&M for linebacker Malik Jefferson, who has any number of scholarship offers from which to choose.
Can Alabama land Jefferson out from under the Aggies?